How a trio of elementary school friends found a shared apartment they could all afford

How a trio of elementary school friends found a shared apartment they could all afford

The renters: Stephen Armstrong, a 22-year-old tech student at Ryerson and account executive at McCann Canada; Draeshawn Remier, a 22-year-old mobility trainer for Rugby Canada; and Taylor Barba, a 22-year-old manager at Fixt, a cellphone repair shop.

The story: The three guys, who have been friends since elementary school, all happened to be searching for apartments in Toronto. They decided it was only natural to move in together. With Drae living in Ottawa at the time, and Taylor busy managing Fixt, Stephen ended up viewing most of the would-be rentals by himself. He didn’t have much luck with the do-it-yourself route: Kijiji and Facebook both came up empty. Finally, they turned to a real estate agent, who ushered them through more than 20 properties. They were hoping to spend no more than $850 each, before utilities.

Option 1

Springdale Boulevard (near Greenwood and Danforth), advertised for $2,100 per month

This 1,000-square-foot unit in the east end was on the second floor of a house. It had three bedrooms, a carpeted living space, a small dining room and a basic kitchen. “It seemed like it was straight out of the ’80s,” Stephen says. There was a huge backyard, but it was primarily a garden, without a lot of space left over for hangouts—and there was no laundry in the building. The guys figured the apartment needed better amenities to make the commute worthwhile.

Option 2

Delaware Avenue (near Dovercourt and College), advertised for $2,750 per month

This place, on the second and third floor of a semi near Ossington station, seemed perfect. The three bedrooms were large, the living room was big enough for parties, the kitchen had a breakfast nook and there was even a rooftop patio. The rent was well beyond their budget, though, so they decided to keep looking.

The choice

Lonsdale Road (near Bathurst and St. Clair), $2,580 per month

When Stephen first viewed this unit, on the second floor of a detached house, it was in rough shape. The lawn and shrubbery were overgrown, the tile in the kitchen and bathroom had been shoddily painted and the hardwood was filthy. But the place had a large backyard, a sunroom, sizeable living spaces and three bedrooms. The three guys saw potential, so they signed the lease and then spent many hours getting the place up to snuff. They scrubbed the floors and tiles, redid the weather sealing, and spruced up the landscaping. Luckily, their landlord is making it worth their while. “She is pretty much footing the bill for everything,” Stephen says. Now that the place is in better shape, Stephen, Draeshawn and Taylor are psyched to be living affordably in pricey Forest Hill.

Here’s the large living room:

The dining area:

The kitchen:

There are three bedrooms. Here’s one of them:

Another bedroom:

And another:

And there’s a sunroom:

The Hunt